The development of digital health interventions (DHIs) for severe mental health problems is fast-paced. Researchers are beginning to consult service users to inform DHIs; however, much of this involvement has been limited to feedback on specific interventions post-DHI development. This study had two aims: 1. explore service user views towards DHIs for severe mental health problems; and 2. make recommendations for specific content within DHIs based on service user needs and suggestions.
Qualitative interviews with eighteen people with severe mental health problems focussed on two domains: 1) views about DHIs for severe mental health problems; and 2) ideas for future DHI content and design features. Data were analysed thematically.
Participants responses were captured in five key themes: 1) DHIs could be empowering tools that instigate reflection and change; 2) society is already divided; DHIs will further increase this divide; 3) considerations must be made about who has access to DHI data and how this data may be used; 4) DHIs should not be delivered without other support options; and 5) DHIs should provide a positive, fun, practical and interactive method for self-management.
Participants found DHIs acceptable due to the empowering nature of self-management and ability to take ownership of their own healthcare needs. However, concerns included the potential for digital exclusion, privacy and confidentiality and fears about DHIs being used to replace other mental health services. Service users want tools to help them self-manage their mental health, but also provide positive and recovery-focussed content that can be used in conjunction with other support options.